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Comment: Re:Drop the hammer on them. (Score 2) 290 290

"Drop the hammer on them."

That's the easy part. The hard part is dealing with what happens after the hammer has been dropped.

Someone once said that the definition of a bad policy is one that leads to a place where you have nothing but bad options. I believe everyone (not just the Greeks) thought back in 2000 it woudl be good policy to bring Greece into the Eurozone. But now we've now reached the point where otherwise rational people are talking about "dropping the hammer", as if having an incipient failed state in Europe is a small price to pay for 600 euro in your pocket. The frustration is understandable, but the the satisfaction of dropping the hammer on Greece would be short-lived -- possibly on the order of weeks depending on the scale of financial disruption.

The unhappy truth is that bad policy choices fifteen years ago means all the options available today lead to long-lived, complicated, and expensive consequences.

Comment: Re:What baffles me is.... (Score 2) 95 95

If this scum has a history of making false claims then why are they still allowed to make claims at all? Better yet, why haven't they been banned from Youtube altogether?

Alice posts a video using music that Bob owns the copyright to. Carol posts a video that uses music Bob falsely claims to also hold the copyright for. Unfortunately Bob's false claim against Carol doesn't change the fact that he actually does have a legitimate legal claim against Alice's video. So kicking him off the system means he's going to issue a takedown against Alice. The whole point of bringing him into the system was to give him an incentive to leave Alice alone.

The problem here isn't Bob and Alice -- that part of the scenario is working fine. The problem is Bob and Carol. There's no incentive for Bob not to make false claims against Carol. That's the bit that has to be fixed.

Comment: Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score 4, Insightful) 261 261

Well, it may interest you to know that courts judging "emotional distress" is not some new Internet fad. In the year 1348 an innkeeper brought suit against a man who had been banging on his tavern door demanding wine. When the innkeeper stuck his head out the doorway to tell the man to stop, the man buried the hatchet he was carrying into the door by the innkeeper's head. The defendant argued that since there was no physical harm inflicted no assault had taken place, but the judged ruled against him [ de S et Ux. v. W de S (1348)]. Ever since then non-physical, non-financial harm has been considered both an essential element of a number of of crimes, a potential aggravating factor in others, and an element weighed in establishing civil damages.

This does *not*, however, mean that hurt feelings in themselves constitute a crime. It's a difficult and sometimes ambiguous area of the law, but the law doesn't have the luxury of addressing easy and clear-cut cases only.

As to why a new law is need now, when the infliction of emotional distress has been something the law has been working on for 667 years, I'd say that the power of technology to uncouple interactions from space and time has to be addressed. Hundreds of years ago if someone was obnoxious to you at your favorite coffeehouse, you could go at a different time or choose a different coffeehouse. Now someone intent on spoiling your interactions with other people doesn't have to coordinate physical location and schedule with you to be a persistent, practically inescapable nuisance.

Does this mean every interaction that hurts your feelings on the Internet is a crime? No, no more than everything that happens in your physical presence you take offense at is a crime.

Comment: Re:Environmentalists will cause the next nuclear a (Score 4, Interesting) 127 127

Every time nuclear power comes up someone blames environmentalists for the industry's problems -- in this case before the problems have manifested. It's an article of faith.

So far as I can see there's only ever been one plant in the US that's ever been cancelled for environmental concerns is the proposed plant at Bodega Harbor, which as you can see on the map would have been right on top of the San Andreas fault. In every other case projects have been shut down after serious miscalculations in the industry's economic forecasting (e.g. lower energy prices in the 80s than anticipated in the 70s), often exacerbated by poor project management performance. In those cases environmentalists were just a convenient scapegoat for management screw-ups.

You can see that because after the very largest anti-nuclear protests in history -- against Seabrook in NH and Diablo Canyon -- the plants were built and put into operation anyway. If a company had a plant under construction that it could make money operating, that plant would get built, even if thirty thousand people turned out to protest.

Comment: Re:Iran is not trying to save money (Score 1) 389 389

Well, you have to factor in the Iranian cultural mania for disagreeing with each other. The Shah couldn't keep them under his thumb, neither can the mullahs, who have their hands full disagreeing with each other.

From a tyrant's perspective Iran is ungovernable, which doesn't mean elements in the government don't give tyranny a go on a regular basis. It's an ideal setup for producing martyrs. The futility of cracking down means you have a little space to rake some muck before official anger overcomes reason.

Comment: Re:Big giant scam ... (Score 1) 819 819

I distinctly remember it being promised that the F-35 would beat anything but an F-22 in air-to-air combat, at a fraction of the price. It was not part of the original concept for the system but it was definitely sold politically as being capable of acting as a poor man's F22.

I wonder about the helmet mounted display, whether that's something you'd consider absolutely necessary in an aircraft whose job is to hit surface targets in contested airspace.

Comment: Re:Big giant scam ... (Score 1) 819 819

As a supposed air-superiority platform, this is an utter failure.

To be fair, that was not the original justification for the thing. That was mission creep.

I think the original impetus was to have something stealthy that could do ground strikes in enemy territory. And it makes sense to do a naval version of the same thing. If they'd just focused on that they'd have been done a long time ago with a solid design, which of course in engineering nearly always turns out to be more versatile than you planned for. Adding STOVL and the whizbang helmet (cool as that may be) as necessary elements of the system turned this into an "everything for everyone" project, which almost always turns out less versatile than you hoped.

Comment: Re:Dogfights?! What year is it?! (Score 1) 819 819

Sure you can identify scenarios where the A-10 is useless. But in the last twenty years it's been extremely useful in a number scenarios we've actually faced.

The idea that a system ought to play every role in every conceivable situation is why the F35 performs none of them very well. In hindsight the idea of accommodating the Marines' need for a STOVL aircraft in the same basic design probably dictated too many compromises in the plane's other roles.

Comment: Re:Ascent, not ascension (Score 1) 316 316

You are confusing "ascension" with "right ascension". Just plain "ascension" (not capitalized) is pretty much a synonym for "ascent".

A few dictionaries define "ascension" as an astronomical term referring to the rising of the star above the horizon -- in other words the increasing of altitude in the alt/azimuth coordinate system -- but this definition doesn't appear in lists of astronomical terms so either this usage is uncommon or obsolete.

Comment: Re:Do not react AT ALL (Score 2) 371 371

First of all, Sir Tim is British, and second of all the First Amendment refers to government regulation of speech. It does not compel a private organization to employ or associate with an individual whose speech it feels reflects poorly on them.

This is not a legal issue, it's a moral issue. It's morally wrong to empower a social media lynch mob without performing a reasonable inquiry into the facts.

Comment: Re:It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 305 305

I don't claim to know anything beyond what I've read in the news, which of course doesn't qualify me as an expert. But I'm fairly confident the fact that you find the accommodations made to Hawaiian religious beliefs annoying has no bearing on whether those beliefs are sincere.

I agree that there's no way to satisfy some of these people. That doesn't make them liars or bad, it just means their interests in this situation cannot be reconciled with yours. It happens sometimes. As much as I believe in looking for win-win solutions, there are occasionally situations where one side or the other has to lose.

And you won't ever get everyone on the other side to agree because that never happens. There are even Catholics who think the Pope isn't as Catholic as they are. So as soon as there were any questions raised about the religious dimension of this project it became inevitable that if they ever built this thing it would be in the face of protests. And as long as the project's leaders think what they're doing is right they should do it and take their PR lumps on the chin. But imputing, without any evidence, false and hypocritical motivations to the protesters actually undoes the work done to make this project possible. That actually *is* disrespecting native religious beliefs.

Comment: It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 305 305

There is nobody for whom the summit of Mauna Kea is their "backyard", so this isn't NIMBY. There are sincere religious and political reasons for opposing this.

Imagine yourself in their position. If a conspicuous structure on the summit of Mauna Kea offended your religious sensibilities when the first one went up, then you're not going to feel less strongly about the thirteenth or fourteenth to go up. Likewise spreading the development to a second, pristine sacred site wouldn't placate you.

The position that nobody's religious views should ever matter is one most people wouldn't agree with, but at least it's a principled position. Claiming (without proof) that views that stand in the way of something you want are insincere and should be disregarded strikes me as dishonest.

The computer is to the information industry roughly what the central power station is to the electrical industry. -- Peter Drucker

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